Older adults’ perspectives on voluntary assisted death: An in-depth qualitative investigation in Australia
OMEGA-Journal of Death and Dying
School of Arts and Humanities
Interest in voluntary assisted death (VAD) has been growing among researchers, policy makers and the public. This study aimed to explore older adults’ perspectives on VAD in Australia. Using purposive sampling, 15 adults ≥ 65 years participated in in-depth semi-structured interviews. Interpretative phenomenological analysis identified four themes: cultural reflections; beliefs and worldviews; health aspects; and fabric of life. Participants expressed a desire to have control over end-of-life options, challenged by religious beliefs. Participants expressed concern that VAD legislation could leave people vulnerable to coercion and saw a need for safeguards. Reasons for and against supporting and utilising VAD were discussed. Physical illness was seen a more compelling reason for VAD than mental ill-health. Finally, connections to life and other were discussed, and being able to do the things one loved were named aspects of what it meant to live a good life. Implications are discussed along with future research directions.